I readily admit that I loved David Eddings' Belgariad series when I first read it, way back in the dark ages of the late eighties when I was a teenager. While it would probably be considered old and formulaic now, it was something new and captivating at the time. Having recently gained access to the audiobooks of the series, I decided a "reread" was just what I needed. And I'm happy to say that I am enjoying the books all over again.
Queen of Sorcery is the second in the series (I listened to the first, Pawn of Prophecy before I started up with book coments again - something I intend to try very hard to keep up with in 2009 as I've joined a number of book challenges and want to have some entries to link to from my reading lists). In this volume, Garion continues to travel with his Aunt Pol and her father, Mr Wolf (revealed at the end of the first book to be the ancient sorcerer Belgarath and his daughter Polgara) to retrieve the stolen Orb of Aldur before it can be used to waken the evil god, Torak, who will then set out to destroy the kingdoms of the West. So, yes, I admit the books are formulaic (Garion even starts out as the scullery boy on a farm, fulfilling the whole "farmboy" cliché) but they are fun. In this book we continue to amass a cast of characters who are generally equally formulaic (a barbarian swordsman, a thief and spy, a master of horses, a spoiled princess etc etc) and Garion (surprise, surprise) discovers that he has a sorcerer's power himself.
The thing is, as I've already said, the books are fun. They're a light weight adventure that refuses to take itself too seriously. The cracks between the characters, while not outstanding in their wit and style, are still amusing and lying back (literally as I've mostly listened to these in bed at night) and going for the ride is a pleasure.
I was a bit worried that the books wouldn't stand up to my fond memories of them, and I am delighted to discover I was wrong. Sure, if I wanted to indulge in literary criticism, I could probably rip them to shreds. But that isn't what I want to do. I just want to enjoy a fun story where I don't have to think too much and can spend some time adventuring with old friends as I drift off to sleep.
Edited to add: I had meant to add a comment on the narrator and had completely forgotten until a reader asked me about him/her. In all honesty, the narrator is pretty sucky. Not so bad I can't listen, but annoying. He over-pronounces all the names with great gusto that doesn't match the general narration. He's also tried to do individual voices for each character which means they are all a bit over the top. He's taken different European-type accents for the main nations and used those. So Durnik sounds like some kind of hick-German, while Mandorallen is an over-the-top Frenchman and Polgara is an upper-crust kind of Englishwoman.
All the same, I'm still enjoying myself and that's why counts. I just roll my eyes at the narrator every so often.
Queen of Sorcery
The Belgariad, Book 2
Audiobook / Reread